Archive for the ‘consumption’ tag
Mobile video. Hot space, right? Viddy just raised $30 million, Socialcam just sold for $60 million. But most of the big mobile video apps seem to be more focused on video consumption and building their user base than actually, you know, letting people shoot video. TapIn.tv wants to change that, with a new app that will let users instantly create and share live and on-demand video streams from their mobile phones.
Mobile video streaming is nothing really new — not even live mobile video streaming. As soon as the iPhone had a camera, there were apps out there that were hacking it to let users stream from their phones. But those apps generally required users to sign in if they wanted to share video, name the channel or stream that they’re shooting, and provide a description. With today’s generation of on-demand mobile video apps, users also have the option of adding filters, title cards, and other crap before posting video.
TapIn.tv strips that all down to just the bare necessities. You download and open the app and BOOM! you can instantly start shooting. Streams are tied to the location of the user, and immediately get posted to the TapIn.tv website.
Video quality depends on available bandwidth, with the app uploading 480p live video over WiFi, and 360p over 3G mobile networks. Videos are available through their own links, which is the same whether a viewer is watching live or on-demand. Links can be shared on Facebook or Twitter once a user has logged in, but there’s no requirement for users to do so in order to post. Users can always claim a video later, since the app establishes ownership based on the device ID, rather than a Facebook profile or other account login.
On the TapIn.tv website, users can browse through videos shot using the app based on date and location. According to co-founder David Tyler, location is important because it will allow users to compare multiple views of the same event or series of events. The idea behind the app came in part from the Occupy protests, where an app like TapIn.tv could have shown the crackdown of protesters in Zuccotti Park from different angles, for instance.
TapIn.tv is currently participating in this summer’s Y Combinator class, and the four-person team is one of the youngest groups to go through the program, with an average age of about 20. Three of the founders (David Tyler, Tyler Menezes, and Paul Cretu) met as part of Redmond High School’s robotics club, Exothermic Robotics. They met the fourth founder, Vu Tran, at StudentRND, a student hacker space in Bellevue, Washington. The team first started working on the app as part of a Seattle Startup weekend last November, when they were building it specifically for citizen journalism.
The team is working on new, interesting ways that they can visualize video events near each other, and working on finding ways to provide a way to watch videos in the app — all without ruining the experience of opening it up and shooting video.
According to an Amazon UK release, the company is now selling more ebooks than hardback or paperback books in Britain, a tipping point that we reached in the US over a hear ago. It took four years for US ebook sales to overtake print sales.
The company is selling 114 ebooks for every 100 printed books. Amazon introduced the <A HREF="http://techcrunch.com/tag/Kindle in the UK two years ago.
This follows Amazon’s announcement that the Kindle Fire, a media consumption tablet, would support international app sales. The move towards international sales of ebooks, however, is of massive importance to all ebook producers, ensuring a steady stream of customers and, more important, a cohort of readers who are used to spending money on digital copies of their favorite titles.
The bookpocalypse continues unabated.
One year into Germany’s “Energiewende”, senior politicians of the conservative-liberal coalition in Berlin begin to question the feasibility of the government’s plan to fundamentally change the country’s energy system. The simultaneous move away from nuclear power and fossil fuels seems to create more political challenges and unanswered questions than imagined when these policies were railroaded through Bundestag and Bundesrat, the two chambers of the German parliament, last summer.
While many distinguished German research institutes, think tanks, analysts, and professors contributed to the German energy debate in the past year, the majority of studies produced support for one or the other argument and is for or against certain policy details. As a well-known critic of lobbying in Germany, Thomas Leif, recently stated, such studies are “part of the political battle of opinions” rather than research in the traditional sense. (Leif’s text in German here)
It may therefore be worthwhile to look internationally for a comprehensive and non-partisan assessment of recent German energy policy. David Buchan’s “The Energiewende – Germany’s gamble” is a timely contribution to the debate. Buchan, a former editor at The Economist and the Financial Times, and currently Senior Research Fellow at The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies at Oxford University, manages to capture both the challenges Germany’s energy policy is facing, and the current debate in its historical context. His paper is discussing the targets Merkel’s government has set itself: Besides the nuclear phase-out these are, most prominently, by 2020, a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions (compared with 1990), 18 percent share green energy share of total energy and a 20 per cent reduction in primary energy consumption (compared with 2008). While Buchan takes these policy goals very seriously, he also puts them in the context of Germany’s over all position as a major industrial economy, EU energy and climate policies, and the global climate regime.
It’s an interesting read for experts as well as for those who need a quick but thorough overview of the general framework of German energy policy. Buchan’s assessment is well researched and balanced. He comes to the conclusion that both the emissions reduction target and the energy consumption reduction target will most likely be missed while the green energy target will be met. These targets, Buchan says, really aren’t that important, though. “Even partial transformation of such a big industrial economy to a lower carbon system would be remarkable. The country has taken a gamble”.
A gamble that is partially paying off: Germany’s industrial base is currently not threatened, but even strengthened by new renewable technologies. More critical, however, is the fact, that the “notion of competition in energy … has fallen out of fashion recently” – which may have disastrous effects on the over-all costs of the energy transition. Germany also needs a friendlier European and global policy environment to maintain competitiveness, that is, a reasonable price on carbon, for the huge investments in renewables to pay off. Finally, Buchan states, it may make sense to create a European support scheme for renewables, rather than the Germany-only system of feed-in-tariffs. (Buchan specializes on the EU’s energy and climate policy, and is author of the book “Energy and Climate Change: Europe at the Crossroads”).)
One of the main reasons to use Firefox has long been its active add-on ecosystem. One of the main reasons not to use it, on the other hand, has been the fact that those add-ons can often lead to Firefox’s memory consumption spiraling out of control. However, Mozilla promises it has finally plugged the add-on leaks with Firefox 15, which is currently in beta and will likely be released by the end of August. According to Mozilla engineer Nicholas Nethercote, Firefox 15 will prevent the majority of memory leaks caused by add-ons, including those from popular tools like Adblock Plus, Video DownloadHelper, GreaseMonkey, McAfee’s SiteAdvisor and the popular developer tool Firebug.
Nethercote admits that Firefox itself has had issues with memory leaks as well, though thanks to Mozilla’s MemShrink project, Firefox itself isn’t the main problem anymore. To cut down on memory leaks from add-ons, which can lead to sluggish responses from the browser, freezes and full-out crashes, Firefox 15 will have some built-in tools that can detect some of the most common types of memory leaks, including so-called Zombie compartments, and plug them automatically.
Since Mozilla switched to a rapid release cycle last year, it has slowly been able to close the gap with Google’s Chrome again. Firefox 15 will also bring a number of other new features to the browser, including Chrome-like silent background updates and support for the SPDY networking protocol 3, as well as preliminary native PDF support.
Image credit: Harry Wood.
Cord cutting is the new file-sharing.
Of course, I don’t mean to say that all cord cutters are pirates. Sure, a subset of them are definitely getting their TV show fix from BitTorrent sites and cyberlockers after ditching cable, especially in countries where no legal alternatives exist. But in the U.S., many people instead turn to Hulu, Netflix and even free over-the-air TV once they cut the cable cord.
Still, cord cutting and file-sharing have a lot in common. On the surface, both are about paying less for movies and TV shows. But take a closer look, and you’ll realize that money is only part of the equation. What really unites cord cutters and file-sharers is that they want to take their media consumption into their own hands.
Cord cutters don’t just want to watch what’s on TV at any given time anymore, and they don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a year on channels they don’t need, or don’t agree with. Instead, they want to have access to the media they want, when they want it, on the devices of their choice.
The same is true for file-sharing. Sure, one of the reasons that people download torrents is that they’re free. But more often than not, free is the only price point that TV shows or movies are available at to begin with. It can take months before U.S. TV shows become available in Europe or elsewhere, and broadcasters in countries like Germany still think that their audience would rather listen to horrible dubbing as opposed to the English original. In many cases, the only way to get that new TV show episode everyone is talking about on Twitter and Facebook is BitTorrent.
Finally, both file-sharing and cord cutting are driving innovation, often against established industries that would rather keep things the way they are. If it wasn’t for file-sharing, Spotify & Co. wouldn’t exist. And if it wasn’t for people looking for alternatives to traditional cable, Netflix would still just be a DVD rental service.
– Janko Roettgers, Cord Cutting Is The New File-Sharing via TorrentFreak
RackSpace, HP, Canonical, and other OpenStack members are combining forces to build what they say will be the first-ever ARM processor based cloud. The goal is to build an extremely efficient, powerful, but inexpensive cloud with low power consumption.
“The explosion of cloud apps is creating new problems in the datacenter,” Mark Collier, a Rackspace vice-president, said in a statement. “ARM-powered OpenStack clouds attack these problems in a fundamental way, by combining a radically more efficient chip architecture with the flexible OpenStack cloud operating system designed to manage them at scale.”
ARM processors are known for their miserly power consumption and low cost, which is why ARM chips power 73 percent of all mobile devices. Those same qualities are important in a cloud environment, where speed and power need to be balanced with energy costs and heat.
Servers and therefore clouds have traditionally been built with x86 chips from Intel, an ARM competitor. No-one has yet built a commercial cloud with the ARM processors … partly because software needs to be tweaked to run on the non-X86 chip architecture, and partly because most ARM processors are 32-bit, while enterprise software is often 64-bit.
But in recent years as ARM processors added power to their long-known and valued efficiency, they’ve become a viable option for servers.
A key member of the partnership is Calxeda, an Austin-based hardware startup which launched an ARM-based server-on-a-chip processor late last year. Using exactly that technology HP — another one of the partners in today’s announcement – managed to squeeze 288 quad-core ARM processors into a 4U server … packing an incredible 1152 processor cores in a single server.
That kind of compact power can drive significant cloud applications.
According to Calxeda VP Karl Freund, “there is massive demand from end-users, ISVs, and members of the open source community to access this new technology.”
OpenStack is an open source cloud architecture supported by 180 companies which is intended to drive open standards in clouds, reducing customer lock-in to any one solution (such as Amazon Web Services). Adding ARM capabilities could make it a very attractive low-power option for those partners, and others.
Image credit: RawCaptured/ShutterStock
Filed under: VentureBeat
It’s the peak of summer. For most, that means it’s time for peak energy consumption. But how much electricity, exactly, is your AC guzzling? And might there be a more voracious energy hog among your appliances? The DIY experts at Stack Exchange offer a few tips on hunting that hog down. More »
Editor’s note: Jack Krawczyk is Senior Product Marketing Manager at StumbleUpon, the discovery platform. Jack was a founding member of Google+ and tweets about stuff @JackK.
No buzzwords are more prominent in today’s Silicon Valley lexicon than social and mobile. They’re so big that they have their own love-child buzzword, SoLoMo (social-local-mobile, the nerd equivalent of Brangelina). Sadly for buzzwordians: mobile is not really social, in the consumption context anyway. Building for mobile requires us to dig deeper into the role it fills in our life.
When we gather around a movie, TV or even use a desktop, we are carving out time and personally allocating our focus. Mobile does not get the same luxury. Mobile fills the gap of 2 minutes when your date leaves the dinner table; it fills the gap when we have brief moments of downtime.
As we have personalized our media, we have decreased the number of people viewing it together. The fewer people who consume media together spend less time with it. This turns mobile into a less physically social experience, and more into a quick transaction optimized for better connection with others.
Build for Bursts – The New Mobile Way
The unique nature of mobile requires us to develop for bursts in usage, rather than sustained usage as we have built for in other media. Because mobile users have a 1-to-1 relationship with their device, it primarily serves as a gap filler. Developing your mobile application should be rooted in that concept.
In the past two years, mobile has grown from zero to nearly 25% of all usage of StumbleUpon. As we’ve built the product we’ve learned some key lessons on how to get the best out of the most personal of devices:
1) Build only 1-2 core use cases; build them really really well
Mobile products have to be designed for the quick hit. The average mobile app session is about one minute long. The attention span of your user is already inherently limited, so why bog down their usage time with making a decision for which use case to execute?
Secondary use cases should be treated as power user features. Take a look at Facebook, for example. There are only two things you can do when you log into your mobile FB app: read your friends’ posts or make your own update. Think of all the other prominent navigation you see on desktop: messages, events, (gasp) groups, all in the main home screen. On mobile: they’re not a main quick hit, so they’re made secondary.
2) Personal benefit is the key to social connection
If you provide the right personal consumption experience, your users will reward you with social connectivity (i.e., sharing with their friends). We use services like Path, Foursquare, and Twitter as a means for expressing our thoughts and locations, but they are valuable because people read them. Consuming the content becomes the ultimate use case with a personal flair.
Providing personalization goes beyond just highlighting and recommending personally relevant content, it also includes presenting it in a quickly digestible format. At StumbleUpon, there are two core factors that dictate our user retention: quality of content recommendations and latency for providing those recommendations.
One major disadvantage mobile experiences against desktop is that 3G/4G connections are relatively slow as molasses. This manifests itself often in retention efforts when building for iOS and Android audiences. Instead of making the core focus of StumbleUpon’s mobile development to be in content recommendations, building latency improvements takes top billing on mobile for its retention impact.
Latency improvements make that quick hit even quicker for our users, which drives to more usage. More usage means more connection with personally relevant content. Those content connections drive 65% of our users to share out to social platforms.
3) Ads are a waste of time, build native monetization
The largest rumor floating around the SoLoMo space has been that there is a monstrous untapped opportunity for mobile advertising. Don’t waste your time in your development efforts by figuring out how to install mobile ad networks: they’re antithetical to your user experience.
When someone is using an app for an average of 71 seconds, the last thing on their mind is going to be whether they want to buy the latest detergent that’s hit the market. Many developers have realized that and placed a price on downloading their app. This strategy often best serves non-media based apps, though if you are going to be building a media-based app with a “free” price tag, go down the native route.
Native monetization consists of connecting advertisers (or distributors) with your users through the main use case of your product. Social apps have built this into their DNA. On Facebook you consume posts, and from that yield sponsored stories. On Twitter you consume tweets, and from that yield promoted tweets. On StumbleUpon you consume web pages, and from that yield sponsored stumbles.
While it becomes difficult to scale your media business until you reach a sizable audience, native monetization units are critical to maintaining the integrity of your user experience while balancing true value for advertisers and distributors. For this reason, if you’re building media-based apps, building your userbase first is critical before natively monetizing; slapping in ads is a short term solution that stunts your organic user growth.
Testing the Limits
We are all still very early on this frontier of mobile development. Prior to mobile phones fitting in your pocket, we never had a device that stayed with us at all times of the day (and by our bedside at night). The opportunity to uncover new companies is motivating. The entire development community will continue to learn from new developments, but one thing is for sure: we’ll consume them for ourselves, most likely on the go.
Today’s guest post is written by Christopher Ryan.
My little sis said to me the other day, “Isn’t it weird Instagram doesn’t have a website and you can only use it on a mobile device?”
“No, not really,” I said.
In the fourth chapter, New Society: Elegant organization, Jarvis begins with a brief anecdote. At The World Economic Forum International Media Council, top-tier media execs probed Mark Zuckerberg for answers.
Please, the publisher beseeched him, how can my publication start a community like yours? We should own a community, shouldn’t we? Tell us how. […] Zuckerberg’s reply was, “you can’t.” […] He told the media moguls they were asking the wrong question. You don’t start communities, he said. Communities already exist. They’re already doing what they want to do. The question you should ask is how you can help make them do that better.
This is something Jarvis calls elegant organization. (WWGD, Pg. 48)
And this is what Instagram has done for the social web.
See, Instagram occupies the power of a laconic phrase but in picture form; offering terse insight into the personal world of the social network (ubiquitous).
It is fast, simple, and easy to use, and that’s what we like about it. Users simply download the app and create an account. Then it’s as simple as point, shoot, and filter! The captions are a measurement of sharing in Instagram, mostly by way of @ mentions and #hashtags.
The picture reigns supreme here and we, the users, determine if a picture is worth a thousand words by way of clicking hearts and leaving comments.
Instagram is thriving because their service makes existing communities better. We know Instagram is purely mobile, but this doesn’t limit their digital wingspan. Consider the Facebook profile picture:
- How many of your friends have fancy borders and effects in their photos?
- What businesses have you noticed using Instagram?
You don’t need to be a graphic designer or even be skilled in editing software to host a beautiful album of professional looking pictures. It makes being creative and the creative process fun and fruitful. In this example, Instagram has improved a facet of the Facebook platform.
Static updates aren’t the only functional benefit Instagram has to offer. The worth of Instagram is in the sharing.
Rita McGrath, Columbia Business School professor, discusses the Amazon complete consumption chain in The Billion-Dollar Social Media Question which has applications to Instagram. She writes:
A consumption chain is the total set of activities a customer goes through in order to get their needs met, or their jobs done.
Instagram users aren’t customers per se, but before you select “upload” you can choose how to share it. This is a primary need in digital communities and Instagram delivers a complete consumption chain by way of connecting us to other digital hotspots.
Default sharing includes:
Instagram weaves their content into other networks to add value to current communities, which inherently promotes their own brand, as well as yours. Offshoots like instacanv.as and webstagram.com are gaining traction, trying to create a better Instagram. This is something Jarvis might call a virtuous cycle.
I am especially taken by Statigr.am, an analytics service for your personal Instagram account. It reminds me of Google Analytics only less technical and more user-friendly (I’m unsure how I feel about this).
There are five major categories, each with their own filters and statistics:
- Rolling month analysis
- Content engagement
Instagram is making great strides on their own in the mobile social network market but they’re also permeating other forms of social media. I’ve mentioned three examples:
- Facebook pictures;
- Sharing, as a consumption chain; and
- Virtuous cycles, as a means to promote culture.
Lastly, I want to hear from you.
Please share your Instagram experience below. What I mention above aren’t the only benefits of Instagram, nor is it limited to personal use. There are business applications as well.
How do you use Instagram to promote your personal brand or business online? Please share your insight.
Christopher Ryan is searching for an online media company to call home. Chris creates eccentric content in business, digital communication, and personal development at Social Composition Blog. Grokking the human experience on Twitter @TopherJRyan
It’s not often that a neuroscientist comments on the topic of caffeine consumption and how to optimize it, but Chris Chatham, author of the book Caffeine: A User’s Guide to Getting Optimally Wired, shared some of his tips for those of us who like a good cup of coffee in the morning (or several) and also want to get the biggest cognitive boost for their caffeinated buck from every cup they drink. Here are his suggestions. More »